Now seems like a good time to pause the report :twisted: and have a little flashback to the period before we entered the DRC.
We made the decision to tackle this part of DRC when we were in Egypt. It would take us about 4 months to drive from Cairo down to the Zambia/DRC border. We immediately started our quest for information. It would soon become clear that very little information was available. We did not know of a single traveller that did this traject in the lat 20 years. We knew of two who tried (both on motorbikes) in recent years. One crashed after a few days and got evacuated. The other got arrested and deported. Both didn't get very far.
So we had to be creative and think of other sources of information. A small overview of some of the responses we received from different instances we contacted
1) MONUC. The UN mission in DRC (United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
). They have almost 20.000 people on the ground, they must have some information. Actualy their website has some useful information.
We contacted the "Cellule Infrastructure" and received the following reply (excerpts):
Originally Posted by MONUC
Malheureusement, le tronçon que vous mentionnez: Likasi - Mwene Ditu est considéré a notre niveau comme impraticable. Nous n'avons pas eu d'informations détaillée depuis longtemps, mais il faut considérer que depuis environ 15 ans il n'y a pas eu d'opération importante d'entretien sur cet axe.
"Unfortunately, the stretch between Likasi-Mwene Ditu is, from our part, considered impossible. We did not receive any detailed information for a long time. One has to consider that no maintenace has been done on this traject in the last 15 years."
This stretch we already passed by now.
Originally Posted by MONUC
Concernant la rivière Loange, le bac n'est pas en service et il n'y a pas de pont. Les infos dont nous disposons mentionnent que la traversée de quelques marchandises se fait en pirogue. Peut être est il possible de faire traverser un véhicule en faisant un radeau avec qq pirogues, mais rien n'est moins sûr.
"Concering the Loange river, the ferry is not operational and there is no bridge. According to our latest information the transport of goods is done by pirogue (canoe?). Maybe there is a possibiliy to cross with a vehicle by buidling a vessel with several pirogues. But nothing is certain"
We still haven't reached the Loange river... great prospect ;-)
And then the most worrying bit:
Certains tronçons sont infestés des coupeurs de route, il s’agit des tronçons : Likasi-Kolwezi et Tshikapa-Kananga
"Certain parts are infested with 'coupeurs de route' (Coupeur de route - Wikipédia
), especially the following parts: Likasi-Kolwezi and Tshikapa-Kananga"
These 'Coupeurs de route' are lawless gangs. 'Road bandits'. They have a nasty reputation in that they have little value for human life. Rape is a common working method for them.
These people I wanted to avoid. On the other hand, one has to read between the lines here, and it was pretty obvious to me: monuc did not have a clue what was going on in the area. They just did not have reliable and up to date information. Do note that monuc is mostly active in East Congo (Goma, Kisangani,..) not in the more 'stable' south/south-west were we are travelling trough.
2) Coca-cola company: If there is ony thing you can find anywhere in the world it is Coca-Cola. They should know how to get their goods in the country. We had no response on mails, so we called them up. Their answer was pretty short: They do not have a distribution network outside the major cities in Congo 8O And it proved to be true, Congo is the first country we have visited were Coca-cola is hard to get once you leave the major cities.
3) About a dozen of NGO's, all answers were negative: they did not have any information
4) Journalists from press agencies and the author from the only guidebooks that exists on the DRC (Sean Rorison): We received a few interesting adresses and contacts in cities, but nothing on the roads. They only travel by air. From a few journalist we received warning on recent events of aggressive attacke by "coupeurs de route" in the area between Kananga and Tshikapa.
5) Foreign affairs office of our own country and several other countries (US, France, ..): they told us we would die if we only thought about the DRC ;-)
6) The Congolese "Office des routes". I was not expecting an answer from them, but they did reply! From a personal mailadres somebody from the Congolese ministry told me that they had no information whatsoever on the condition of their road network. But they would appreciate any information that we could obtain!
The moral of the story was: nobody knew anything about the road conditions. The worrying bit were the "coupeurs de route". Different sources talked about them, and always in the Kananga-Tshikapi area. This seemed like the area to avoid. We had already decided to drive to Kananga but then go north from there to Ilebo as to avoid the Kananga-Tshikapi area.
In my last post I told we had to make a detour because a bridge was out. Guess in what area that brought us?